Twenty years of words

Twenty years of words

Twenty years ago this month (January 2018) I sent what I thought was a letter to the Editor to Suburban News Publications (SNP) about living with hearing loss.

A few days later, I got a call through my TTY (Text Telephone). Someone was calling me through the Ohio Relay Service for the Deaf.

When I read, “Hi Liz, this is Cliff Wiltshire, Commentary Editor for Suburban News Publications,” I was stunned.

Very few people contacted me in this way. He asked if I sent him the letter that began, “I can’t hear you when I yawn…” I told him it was me.

“I hardly have to change a word,” he went on to say. “It will be in the newspaper next week.” I typed back (and the operator voiced my words) a thank you.

The next week I opened my Booster newspaper and saw my words staring at me with Guest Columnist next to my name. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that.

After that, ideas flowed into words and I sent my thoughts to Cliff monthly. Cliff became the ultimate editor for this novice writer. He gently guided me to improve my writing to get my point across in the 800-plus words allowed, in those days.

Eventually he asked for a photo. That photo has changed, as well as my byline, over the years: Guest Columnist with no photo, to the same with a photo, and eventually changed to Staff Reporter.

Cliff told me, once I was on staff at the newspaper as a copydesk typist, to think of a name for my column. I brainstormed with my coworkers – Lisa Proctor, Dorothy Stoyer, Mary Mattison and others whose names elude me.

Nothing sparked interest.

One evening, my husband said, “How about day by day?” I loved it and asked him why he thought of that.

“Because that’s how you live.”

With my late onset deafness and MS, I really have no real choice but to live this way. But my faith in God really directs my steps and Bob knew all this about me.

Plus, my maiden name is Day.

Once I became a reporter, in 2000, I met so many people with unique stories that I had new material for columns. I was glad to redirect my topics away from just me.

We moved to Arizona in 2003 and I was fortunate to have The Arizona Republic newspaper run my column for more than two years. My topics changed to my perceptions of a transplanted life from green, seasonal Ohio to the desert.  I wrote about the water issues, my experiences working in the schools and daily life.

Once back in Ohio, in late 2005, Suburban News Publications welcomed me back. Eventually, the newspaper was bought and now I write for This Week News.

I have kept paper copies of all my columns. In 2007, I started to put them in a file in word processing, thinking that someday my grandchildren might want to read them.

As I started typing, I thought I would add my inspiration for each column. Then I remembered the wonderful letters I’d received ‘snail mail’ and added those.

One day I said, “This is a book.” Many of my early columns were about my hearing loss, eventual deafness and my cochlear implants, so I proposed my book to Gallaudet University Press – the only university for the Deaf in the U.S. In those days, authors sent a hard copy and double spaced at that.

They took it, edited it, and published it as “Day by Day, the Chronicles of a Hard of Hearing Reporter.” Even though I was deaf, I wasn’t born Deaf, as Deaf culture dictates, so the title read this way.

All the editors at SNP, Cliff, the late Marty Rozenman – who wrote the foreword in this book – and Joe Meyer and others stood by me, and I know it wasn’t always easy.

Thanks to the people at SNP, my dream of publishing happened in January 1998 and I can’t seem to stop writing.

Thanks for listening all these years.

 

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Slow down, listen to what 2016 brings

Day by day

Slow down, listen to what 2016 brings

LIZ THOMPSON

January 11, 2016
This Week News

 

I woke up this morning and couldn’t believe another year had flown by. I’m thankful for another day and, hopefully, another year.

Time really does move faster as we get older. It seems there are more stars in the Arizona sky than in Ohio.

Yet no matter how fast time seems to fly and how many stars we can, or can’t, see, what’s important is how we spend our time and our appreciation for things such as the stars twinkling in the night sky.

The new year is a time when some make resolutions to change something for the better. Admirable, yes, but I don’t think resolutions should pervade our thoughts as much as society thinks they should.

It’s infinitely more important to mark each day as important, since the number of our days is uncertain.

In January 1998, I sent what would be my first column to Suburban News Publications, yet it seems like weeks ago. I still remember I wrote about my hearing loss as it was marching to deafness. I don’t remember what I thought the newspaper would do with my writing, but I was compelled to write and send.

As my hearing waned, I liked to say writing was like talking through my hands onto the keyboard and into the computer.

All those years as a secretary paid off. But I did also talk with my hands using sign language. Anything to communicate.

The commentary editor at the time called me on my TTY (text telephone) to confirm I was the author. I was stunned, as most hearing people either didn’t know how to do this or just didn’t take that extra measure to reach me.

A few years later, my hearing really did take a hike. It was as elusive as the stars in a cloudy Ohio sky. I wasn’t sure what I would do, but I kept on, day by day, until the miracle of a cochlear implant in 2002 restored my hearing — although I perceive sound, not hear it — to about 95 percent in a quiet setting. Technology at its best.

Sometimes I forget the sounds happening while my voice processors are off: the radio sending out music and voices; the dog’s nails as he walks on the hardwood floor; his barking; birds chirping or singing; the coffee dripping through the machine; the furnace or air conditioner kicking on; people talking; water dripping; coughs and sneezes; the wind chimes; wind and rain; and all kinds of clanks and bangs.

Our youngest grandson, now 15, used to whisper into my ear when he was younger, prior to my implants, telling me whatever was on his mind. Typically he was asking for gum or candy. As a grandmother, I always had both, just like my grandmothers had.

I would remind Andrew I couldn’t hear his whisper in my hearing aids. He would repeat his request facing me so I could read his lips and I’d tell him to ask his mom or dad first.

He thought I was a soft touch, which I really am, and would skulk away knowing their answer. I’d chuckle and my daughter would thank me.

After my implants, I could understand him, but I still gave him the same answer. Oh, how hearing and understanding his whispers made my heart happy.

Most sounds still make me happy — definitely my grandchildren’s voices.

The noise of this world is increasing exponentially. Many will join the thousands with hearing loss sooner than might have happened by aging alone, if they don’t quiet life down.

Some people say to me, “I wish I could to do that,” meaning shut out the noise in life. I know they mean well, but I don’t recommend wishing for such things that I, for one, know can happen.

The stars are there, whether we can see them or not, and time can be sweet if we slow down enough to listen for God whispering and telling us to look up. I suggest refilling the candy dish.

 

Being green: A little effort nets big payoff

Day by Day

Being green: A little effort nets big payoff

By LIZ THOMPSON
March 31, 2015
ThisWeekNews

Kermit the Frog, from the children’s show, Sesame Street, made the phrase, “It’s not easy being green,” popular.

Today it is easier to be green than ever before and has quietly become an everyday event, less a social statement than a way of life.

Recycling is not new, as archaeologists have found evidence of it as early as 400 B.C. What we recycle has changed from turning brass coins into statues to disposable material, but not exclusively.

Before mass production, it was cheaper to reuse than buy new.

When we got married April 22, 1978, I had no idea that was Earth Day and had been since 1970. It’s appropriate as I married a man raised on a farm and I always considered myself an outdoor girl.

I’m a fan of being responsible and taking care of what I have. I try not to obsess, just keep our home tidy.

Years ago, our son saw me sweeping the front porch at a home we’d recently moved into.

“You really like this house, don’t you?” he said. Yes was my answer. How did he come up with that? Likely it was because I was taking care of the house, wanting it to look its best. He knew I liked to sweep — don’t ask me why, I just do. I never asked him but I was amused at the time, and the memory makes me smile.

After a hard winter, our new seedlings are growing tall in their temporary home in the basement. Little tufts of green hold promise of plants. We are planning where to put everything again this year, rotating from last year in our smallish backyard. I’m ready.

Thanks to a neighbor, we obtained a composting bin he no longer needed. This year we’ll have some really black, rich soil to add to our ground. After we plant our garden, we will care for it by watering, weeding and adding natural nutrients.

Our reward will be harvesting fully grown vegetables literally ripe for the picking. I am eager for those days again this year.

I’ve always been a proponent of taking care of our earth. I’m no expert and can’t claim that I know where or how our planet’s environment will progress. But I know that I can take care of my little section by responsibly recycling, educating myself on what we put on our lawn and garden, and not adding to any kind of pollution. The website growingagreenerworld. com is a great resource.

Again, I don’t obsess or think that catchphrases make up the whole of our world. Our air is cleaner than many other parts of the world but sooner or later, we all share the same air. It’s not as if we can block the borders in the air.

Our youngest grandson always lets us know of the best movies — often animated. He told us about WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class). The story is a worst-case scenario for the people on earth who didn’t get pollution, materialism and waste under control.

WALL-E is a sanitation robot whose best buddy is a roach. Interesting the makers of this movie chose that as the only living thing left on earth. WALL-E spends his days collecting, compacting and piling trash, almost like building blocks.

In this movie, mankind’s current home is a giant spaceship where humans float on personal hovercrafts, interact with others via screen phones and have grown so obese and sedentary that they’ve forgotten how to walk. Because of WALL-E and another robot, who find a green plant which signals it’s time for humans to return to earth, a chain of events occur that puts people and the planet back on a healthier path.

It makes me think we should use up and use wisely our material possessions instead of buying frivolously simply to have new items. I’ve always liked using cloth and canvas bags for most shopping, yet I don’t always succeed. I’m glad most stores have reusable bags available for purchase.

Noticing our stockpile of plastic bags, I remembered a story of people who use them to make mats for the homeless. After finding the instructions, we gathered our bags, my husband cuts them in strips, I weave into “yarn” and crochet small mats to use when we’re camping.

But more than anything, I love our earth and will continue to take care of my little corner. We each can do that because, unlike poor Kermit, it really is easy to be green.

Spring rebirth offers ongoing gifts, life lessons

Day by Day
Spring rebirth offers ongoing gifts, life lessons
By LIZ THOMPSON
ThisWeekNews
Tuesday, January 6, 2015

“Baby, it’s cold outside” is an appropriate phrase, whether sung with the familiar tune or spoken, from December till early spring in Ohio.

By now, and definitely by February, we are ready for sunshine and weather warm enough to step outside wearing only a light jacket. Of course, the joke goes, in central Ohio, if we wait 10 minutes the weather changes.

Squirrel and bird nests, which were once hidden in green foliage of spring and summer, are visible in winter-barren trees,

Nature always has fascinated and soothed me. One poem I wrote years ago called Winter Branches speaks to this topic. In part, it reads:

The branches of the winter tree, wave in the wind, alone and free, reaching up towards the sky, the foreground of sunsets, orange to the eye.

Each tiny branch can be easily seen, for the leaves of cover have fallen and died. The tree seems to have lost any real purpose, naked and cold and seemingly worthless.

But the sap is waiting for the warmth of the sun, to rush through the branches to bring life to what seems done. Then once again all the leaves will grow, and the tree will survive, as it has since long ago.

Regeneration in nature is a true miracle. Springtime teems with new life but in winter, I see hidden hope because I know the sap is running inside the trees and roots underground are waiting to sprout, showing new growth.

Several years ago, we had a sunflower, which we never planted, grow more than 6 feet tall in our garden. Thank you birds.

The next year, we had a long row of sunflowers looking for all their worth like a neatly planted garden of flowers. But we never planted any of them either.
They had multiplied themselves with the help of more of our feathered friends, dropping seed along their flight.

The next two years, not a single sunflower. Then they came back with a mighty force, giving me plenty of cutting to do so we could walk along the sidewalk.

I laughed when I bought a bag of wildflower seeds and saw sunflowers listed. When I planted those in another spot than our volunteer sunflowers, sunflowers did appear with different varieties I’d never seen.

Who knows what we’ll see come spring, but the anticipation is fun.
I was watching an episode of Growing a Greener World (growingagreenerworld.com) on WOSU (Columbus, Ohio) about this topic. A horticulturalist and propagator was showing how to generate new growth by starting new plants from cuttings. She said that plants’ and trees’ only missions are to propagate with a need to duplicate as a matter of survival.

She used the oak tree dropping “buckets full” of acorns to make new trees as an example. Our small but healthy oak tree did that very thing this year for the first time. Thankfully, squirrels collected them for us.

Most years, I save seeds from my zinnias and marigold flowers. The seeds from last year, once blooming, looked different this summer. In addition to growing taller than me, some of the zinnias were multiple colors, with colors, like pink, I’d never seen before. Some had large flowers while others were almost tiny but packed with vibrant color.

Then I learned that when seeds are saved and sown from hybrid plants, the plants grown from those seeds tend to revert to the original plants. A little confusing but the result was remarkable and lovely.

We are already planning our garden for this year. Seed catalogs will soon be here and as the snow blows and wind howls, we will map out what and where to plant. We’ll set up our mini-greenhouse in the basement and start tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. It makes the possibility of spring seem closer and expectations an ongoing gift.

The idea of regeneration gives the bleak winter, with hidden treasures waiting for spring sunshine to reveal new growth, more promise. Once the winter season is behind us, we are renewed and ready to get planting.

I think we need times to wait for fresh purpose to stir within us.

The branches of the winter tree set an example for you and me. When all purpose seems to be gone, we can remember the seemingly barren tree.

It knows that soon the spring will come and winter’s cold harshness will be done. We must persist, as the lonely tree, and wait for new life to set us free.Sunflowers

Thanksgiving reminds us to let go, forgive

Day by day
Thanksgiving reminds us to let go, forgive
By LIZ THOMPSON
November 4, 2014
ThisWeekNews.com

When we think of slow baking, we might get our Crock-Pot ready for the sweet smells of cooking low and slow. The fragrance of soup, meats and even desserts will fill our home, if we are fortunate enough to have the pot and ingredients.

With Thanksgiving happening this month, we are thinking of what to cook and who to cook for. Many will give of themselves to serve meals at shelters or churches; giving back to their community for those less fortunate. God bless them all with clean motives of love abounding.

The word forbearance was used in my daily devotion recently and I checked the dictionary to make sure I had the right definition. Basically, it is a byproduct of love and means to have patience when provoked; being willing to put up with people’s actions and inactions — to let things go and to forgive.

No one says it’s easy but it is possible.

In the book Lee: The Last Years, by Charles Bracelen Flood, a story about Robert E. Lee illustrates my thoughts. After the end of the Civil War, Lee visited a woman in Kentucky who showed him the remains of what was once a grand, old tree. It had been destroyed by federal artillery fire.

Crying, the woman looked for Lee to condemn the Northerners or sympathize with her loss. His response: “Cut it down, dear Madam, and forget it.”

When I asked my friend Suzanne if she thought writing about forbearance while thinking of giving thanks this month, in particular, made sense, she didn’t hesitate. “Being able to forgive is one of the best gifts God has given us,” she said. “So yes, we need to be thankful about all things, including our learning to let things go.”

Lack of communication or poor communication can break down even the smallest family or corporation. Add to that a lack of patience and walls go up that create divisions that are hard to break down or through. Offenses are exaggerated to the point where we might even forget how it all began.

“A (fly’s) egg becomes as huge as ever was laid by an ostrich,” Charles Spurgeon said about offenses magnified out of proportion.

I’ve been there, done that — seen that. It takes someone saying something to break through that wall of conflict and wave a white flag; call it quits and start again.

On the lighter side, Erma Bombeck wrote with humor on living, through her years. Near the end of her life, she was asked what she would do differently if she had a chance to live her life again. Many famous quotes came from her answers: burning that fancy pink candle instead of letting it collect dust, not worrying about grass stains and playing with her children more, but the following quote relates to my writing today:

“There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”

We need to decide whether to let our annoyances slow bake or let them go. It’s hard to be thankful when our hearts and minds are busy being angry. And you might already know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile; not just the baring teeth smile but the true smile that reaches the eyes.

Smiling is only an indication of being open to forgiving, forgetting (at least not bringing up old hurts repeatedly) and being willing to “cut it down.”
This month, we think more about what we are thankful for because of the national holiday. It’s a good reminder to be thankful year-round.

I look at the birds at our feeder and realize how hard they must work for daily food and I become more thankful.

Physical things such as food, clothing and shelter are temporary and shifting.
The long-term, year-round list for me includes family, friends, memories, and acts of love and forgiveness I have experienced in my life. There isn’t paper enough to write it all down.

Jan Karon wrote in Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, “Love is an act of endless forgiveness.” Sounds right to me.

But check that Crock-Pot to make sure your food doesn’t burn. You likely have hungry people to feed.

Memory woes a sign of aging, or of dementia

Day by day
Memory woes a sign of aging, or of dementia
by Liz Thompson
Wednesday August 20, 2014
Thisweeknews.com

Where did I put my glasses? Why did I come into the kitchen?

Memory loss of any degree is worrisome. It can be a precursor to serious problems. I say my brain is a closet packed full of life’s “stuff” and I have to sort through to find what I want. I’m not alone.

Linda, 62, of Westerville recently retired from a fast-paced job and is learning to relax.

“I’ve decided it’s OK to forget the small things and just remember the most important, like picking up that grandchild or going to a doctor appointment. Forgive yourself for not remembering and enjoy what time we have left in this world,” Linda said.

Don, 71, of Columbus said, “Although I have had dementia in my family, I really don’t obsess about it. It’s one of those things over which we have little control.

“I was talking with a friend about the Hitchcock film North by Northwest,” Don said. “While we both agreed it was a classic, neither of us could remember the star who we were later told was Cary Grant. The friend who I was talking with is 66.”

“Bob,” 75, of Columbus, helps Habitat for Humanity build houses.

“I ride my bicycle whenever I can,” said Bob, who asked that his real name not be used.

When he’s not physically active, he is writing about his life. Both he and Don use calendars to track their activities but when busy, they sometimes forget things.

Bob has seen fellow scientists, family and friends struggle with dementia. Some made good choices when they recognized the onset of symptoms, while others chose to ignore them and eventually had to rely solely on others.

“My fear is that as I get older and need to have other people do things for me, I’ll accept some bogus, money-up-front offer. My question is how I will recognize that the time has come for me to turn such decisions over to one of my children,” Bob said.

According to the American Psychological Association, some memory loss is normal with aging, and some types of memory improve or stay the same. They urge people to watch for signs because physical conditions can affect the memory. These include anxiety, dehydration, depression, infections, medication, poor nutrition, psychological stress, substance abuse and thyroid problems.

Barb, 63, of Powell is proof. Multiple sclerosis affects her memory to the point where, at times, she may not know the names of family members. Yet she challenges herself physically by doing long fundraising bike rides.

Mari Dannhauer, program director for the Alzheimer’s Association, said dementia is a cornucopia of symptoms, not a diagnosis.

“If you get a diagnosis of dementia, ask what type it is. Ask lots of questions,” Dannhauer said. “Dementia causes short-term memory loss and confusion. Sometimes it is reversible and sometimes it is not. Alzheimer’s is the most common irreversible form of dementia.”

She urges people to see their doctor when they notice recurring problems and when others start to notice.

Amy Schossler, director of the Upper Arlington Commission on Aging, said the upcoming Memory and Brain Health Symposium was developed in direct response to a survey at an event sponsored by the Upper Arlington Civic Association.

“The survey asked many questions about the subjects seniors want to know more about. Overwhelmingly, two-thirds of all responses indicated that memory and brain health are a top priority,” Schossler said.

The symposium features Dr. Douglas Scharre, a cognitive neurologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; Dr. Marla Bruns, a cognitive neurologist with Ohio Health; and Dr. Akhlaq Farooqui, a retired neurochemist.

Topics include brain health, diagnosis and treatment of dementia, and research associated with the disease. Scharre will discuss the Self-Administered Geocognitive Examination (SAGE) and have copies available for people to take; staff will be available to review and discuss the results.

The Memory and Brain Health Symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23 at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, 2300 Lytham Road.

Registration is required by calling 614-583-5326. Seating is limited to 150 people. Free lunch and a senior expo of community organizations and businesses are included.

The majority of us will learn to live with minor memory issues and even learn to laugh about it — especially since we have company.

Now where are my keys?

Slow down and enjoy life’s read

Day by day

Slow down and enjoy life’s read

By LIZ THOMPSON
Wednesday June 18, 2014

What page are you on?

I can tell how much I’m enjoying a book when I don’t want it to end. Slowing down only delays the inevitable; the last page, the final word. Next I’ll be searching for the sequel or another book by this author.

Some people struggle to read and find it hard to study and learn; it can be a real problem to overcome.

But I’m also talking about those who can read fine but don’t want the task. They stop and look to see how many pages they have to read, bemoaning the fact they aren’t close to being finished — wasting time being frustrated instead of enjoying the read. The end will come soon enough.

We do that same thing when we check our watch every few minutes or wish our days away, when we spend time worrying or wanting a bad day to end. We’d be better off by making the most of the moment.

Maybe it’s a human condition where we push forward, in essence, to simply get all the pages turned and the book finished.

As a teen, a reading test showed I was a fast reader, yet my comprehension lagged. Reading fast has served me well in some respects, but proved detrimental when typing what I was reading. By reading so fast, I often skipped entire lines. The same proved true when playing the piano while reading the music.

In time, I learned to pace myself for accuracy in typing and playing music. As a result, my comprehension improved and I enjoyed more what I was reading or playing.

Our personal life is a unique book, one I believe is written by God. Not one book, or life, is identical. That’s remarkable. We need to listen and watch thoughtfully as each page is turned, knowing the end will eventually happen.

In May, we were camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On our campsite, we had a screened room but we kept the front open during the day.

A yellow butterfly was darting frantically in this room, seeking an exit. I tried to help it out with my hands and hoped it would alight on my cane when upheld, to no avail. It was almost painful to watch as it hit the top and sides, coming so close to the exit and starting its mad path over again.

Finally, it escaped. We sighed with relief. Two days later it happened again, and I was able to use my hands to ease it to freedom. The flutter of its wings was both a thrill and a warning.

I found my heart rate was up after it flew away, and it reminded me how we sometimes spend a lot of time flying around seeking freedom, often refusing help. We see children acting much like the butterfly until they realize accepting help and guidance is good.

Life lessons are a gift.

I’m reminded of the final page analogy when someone dies and I attend the funeral, memorial service or wake. In April and May, I attended four such events, although in the same time frame six people I knew left this life: three friends, a brother-in-law, a neighbor who was also a friend, and the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony many years ago.

In retrospect, we think of these lives and their legacy.

I believe it’s unhealthy to compare ourselves to others. That would be like saying all the best books, poems and the like have been written. Why should we try to write anything?

I refer to other writers who inspire me; I don’t stop writing, thinking it doesn’t measure up, although I often choose to toss writings or completely rework them.

So with our lives. We spend time reworking ourselves and tossing out the garbage, so to speak. That’s a good choice.

When I attend memorial services, I try not to compare my life to theirs but I take inspiration from them. Those who volunteered — I might support these causes. Those who had great humor — I might catch myself when I grumble. And those who were humble — I’m reminded to check my ego at the door.

The list goes on.

When I fail to do what is good and true, I look to change that, often thinking of those who were positive influences on me.

Life moves fast enough; no need to push ahead. Turn your life pages slowly and enjoy the read.